Shane Flanagan is set to be deregistered by the NRL.
Shane Flanagan is set to be deregistered by the NRL.

Flanagan to be kicked out of the game

The Cronulla Sharks will be on the lookout for a new coach for the 2019 season when the NRL sensationally rubs Shane Flanagan out of the game indefinitely after uncovering evidence he violated the terms of his suspension following the club's 2014 supplements scandal.

The hard-line decision was made after NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg presented compelling evidence to the game's independent commission on Tuesday.

An NRL investigation found Flanagan regularly ignored the strict terms of the 12-month ban imposed on him over Cronulla's peptide scandal.

 

 

Although ARL commissioners emerged from the final meeting of the year silent on Flanagan's fate, it is understood the NRL integrity unit will issue the Sharks coach with a breach notice, asking him to show cause why he should not be deregistered indefinitely.

Flanagan was found to have ignored the terms of his suspension. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)
Flanagan was found to have ignored the terms of his suspension. (AAP Image/Brendan Esposito)

Sharks chair Dino Mezzatesta and chief executive Barry Russell will be invited to Rugby League Central and presented the findings before the NRL hold a media conference to officially reveal the sanctions.

According to sources, the NRL believes it had no choice but to indefinitely deregister the premiership-winning coach, rather than just impose another 12-month ban, because he blatantly ignored the previous suspension.

Cash-strapped Cronulla also have a $400,000 suspended fine from the supplements scandal hanging over their head and any financial penalty could further damage the club's position.

Cronulla CEO Barry Russell faces another testing media conference. (Brett Costello)
Cronulla CEO Barry Russell faces another testing media conference. (Brett Costello)

Flanagan has been under investigation over allegations he breached the terms of his 2014 suspension by becoming involved in talks over the future of several players.

His deregistration is likely to leave the Sharks with no choice but to terminate his contract.

The club stood by Flanagan when he was suspended for his part in the peptide scandal but their hands will be tied after the NRL decided not to put a timeline on his potential return.

He will then need to apply to head office to again be registered, something there is no guarantee the league would accept.

 

Trent Barrett is already in contention as a replacement. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Trent Barrett is already in contention as a replacement. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

 

Rival coaches have already begun circling Cronulla in anticipation of Flanagan's demise, given the Sharks have a squad ready to challenge for a premiership.

A host of coaches have been linked with the role and there were reports that former Manly coach Trent Barrett was in Cronulla on Tuesday to throw his hat in the ring. Barrett played for the Sharks during his storeyed career and remains on the Sea Eagles' payroll despite parting ways with the club in acrimonious circumstances at the end of the 2018 season.

Barrett is no shoo-in for the role. Assistant coach John Morris will be in the reckoning along with another former assistant Steve Price.

 

Flanagan won’t get a chance to replicate the 2016 triumph. (Brett Costello)
Flanagan won’t get a chance to replicate the 2016 triumph. (Brett Costello)

 

Sydney Roosters assistant Adam O'Brien and Penrith assistant Cameron Ciraldo are also highly thought of, the latter having played at the Sharks as well.

The likelihood is that the club's senior players will have a decisive say in any replacement for Flanagan given the influence they wield and the paucity of football nous at the club, which runs on a skinny staff and bare-bones budget.

The choice of any potential replacement becomes even more important given captain Wade Graham is off contract at the end of 2019 and his future could hinge on what direction the club decides to take with the head coaching role.

 

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